All month bloggers and tweeters effected by endometriosis have come together to talk about this terrible disease for Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition that affects approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide; 8.5 million in North America alone. Endometriosis is a disease where the tissue that lines and then sheds from the uterus during a normal menstrual cycle, escapes the uterus and then grows on the outside portion of the uterus, the ovaries, the intestines or other parts of the body. The disease causes internal bleeding which can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, adhesions, inflammation and disruption of the digestive and urinary systems, among other problems. Currently there is no cure for endometriosis, and the only truly effective treatment is surgery, which brings only temporary relief. Please share this post to promote awareness of this disease, which is often misdiagnosed and ignored by many medical professionals. Listed below are five of the most common symptoms associated with endometriosis.
1) Painful periods with no relief from over the counter drugs.
Before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I remember my gynecologist telling me, “Oh no, pain with period and ovulation is normal.” The type of pain I feel when my endometriosis has taken over my pelvic region can only be described as a leprechaun wearing soccer cleats is doing an Irish Jig on my pelvic region for days. We ladies are really tough, but this kind of pain IS NOT NORMAL!
2) Mysterious stomach issues that were chalked up to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Good old IBS seems to be the diagnosis that a person gets when everything else has been ruled out and the doctors have no idea what is going on. Early in my twenties I had upper and lower GI series, colonoscopies and yes even blood and stool samples taken. The doctors had no idea what was causing my terrible stomach problems. Finally, after my surgery for endometriosis, I found out that it had spread to my digestive system, causing all of these issues.
3) Struggling with infertility.
Even a small amount of endometriosis can be known to hinder the fertilization of the egg and implantation of the embryo. But because endometriosis can spread to the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and even the uterus, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and even problems with ovulation can be attributed to the disease.
4) Pain during intercourse.
Pain during intercourse should not be a usual occurrence. Endometriosis can grow in spots where intercourse can cause sharp pain and soreness.
5) Allergic reactions and fatigue
When my endometriosis was particularly bad I noticed that a few days before my period every month I would break out into hives from head to toe. Doctors are still researching the link between endometriosis and allergies, but many women out there see a connection. Women with endometriosis get significantly more fatigued during different point in their cycle, especially during menstruation.
Many women with endometriosis, like myself, have felt for the better part of their lives that they were crazy. Before I was correctly diagnosed, I had been to gynecologists, gastroenterologists and allergists, and none of them could figure out what was wrong with me. They attributed my symptoms to stress. When my reproductive endocrinologist finally diagnosed me with the disease through a laparoscopic surgery, I finally felt like I had the answers to so many of my health concerns over the years. My pain and other symptoms were valid, and I wasn’t crazy after all. If you are having any of these symptoms, tell your doctor about it. You don’t have to live in chronic pain. If your doctor doesn’t listen, keep searching until you find a doctor that will take you seriously. For more information about endometriosis check out Padma Lakshmi‘s Foundation: http://www.endofound.org/endometriosis .